Ted Osius’ path to becoming U.S. ambassador to Vietnam began with bicycle diplomacy, soon after relations with Hanoi were restored in 1995. As a consular officer, he pedaled the countryside and endeared himself to the Vietnamese. Osius is gay and married, and represents a modern America: “I’m white, my husband’s black and our kids are brown,” he says. The closest most locals will ever come to a U.S. ambassador abroad is a passing motorcade or a heavily staged official event. But given the tortured relations between the United States and Vietnam over the years, U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius is dispensing with traditional protocols to help create a new reference point on U.S.-Vietnam relations. His mission in Vietnam started with a 1,200-mile bike ride, the length of the country, as a U.S. consular officer in 1995, soon after official relations between the two countries were restored. His bike diplomacy continues to be his signature style for interacting with the Vietnamese people, as well as local government officials. President Obama departs for a trip to Asia tomorrow, his first stop, Vietnam. Mr. Obama will be the third consecutive president to visit the nation after America’s war there ended in 1975. Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam are warming as mutual interests become clearer.
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Newsline: America’s bicycle ambassador to Vietnam